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Law Enforcement

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The ultimate goal of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Law Enforcement program is that all users of the resource voluntarily comply with the rules that safeguard our resources.

Even though the vast majority of hunters and anglers are ethical law abiding citizens, there remains a small group of users who threaten the resource by violating the rules designed to ensure the enjoyment of all.

“Poacher” is the catch all term that has been used for centuries to refer to those who operate outside the confines of legal hunting and fishing.

Although officers must witness the violation firsthand to make an arrest, reliable information can be extremely valuable when trying to investigate violations. Considering that most violations occur in the thick woods, backwaters and shadows and are committed by those who try to remain unseen, any information that narrows the field as to the right time and place is most helpful.

Here are a Few Things that Hunters and Anglers Can Do to Assist
the Conservation Officer in Protecting the Resource and Apprehending Violators…

  • Stick to the facts when reporting violations.

    Let the facts speak for themselves. Officers sometimes receive the products of rumor and speculation instead of the basic facts. A large stringer of catfish viewed at a hundred yards looks very much like a large stringer of bass. What sounds like a very active dove shoot down the road may actually be someone shooting clay birds . Report only what you know to be a fact and let the officer’s investigation determine the rest of the story. Don’t allow the credibility of your report to be diminished by details that are unrealistic or inaccurate.

  • Be specific.

    The details often turn out to be the most important part of the report. The who, what, where and when should include things such as day of the week, time, clothing and vehicle description, direction of travel, tag or registration numbers , approximate age and even behavioral clues. Many significant cases have evolved through small details such as shoe tread impressions or brands of cigarettes. Establishing patterns with specific violators can lead to their downfall.

  • Don’t disturb any potential crime scene or evidence.

    Leaving a note on the tree stand of a poacher saying you’ve called the game warden probably won’t help the officer catch the culprit.

  • Report incidents/violations as soon as possible.

    Conservation officers can’t get results when they receive calls in February about violations that occurred in December. Officers can be contacted through their district offices or through the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Communications unit that operates 24/7. Citizens can report incidents through their cell phone by texting the keyword “GameWatch” followed by the information to 847411 (TIP411). The toll free GameWatch number 1-800-272-4263 is also available. Callers remain anonymous at all times and rewards are available in some cases. The Alabama Wildlife Federation sponsors both the GameWatch system and the reward program. Please remember that these numbers are for reporting wildlife violations and are not for general information calls.

  • Follow up with additional information as it becomes available.

    If the violation continues, report each incident as it occurs. This can provide additional clues and help establish the violator patterns.

Safeguarding the resource is everyone’s responsibility.

Be an asset to your conservation enforcement program by reporting poaching incidents and remember that peer pressure from law abiding hunters and anglers remains the most effective method of gaining compliance with wildlife resource laws and regulations.

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This is not the full law. Consult the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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